The Great Thermostat Debate

Question: “John, Now that you have installed this wonderful new system, where the heck do I set the thermostat?”

Now, I must preface my following answer with the fact that at the end of the day everyone is different. I can however explain how the system was designed in an effort to better understand where you might want to set your thermostat.

The number one question I get following an installation or duct modification is always, “where should I set this thing?”. My answer is always based on what the system was designed for and what we agreed was the most important problems we are overcoming with our changes.

When we sit down together and design the perfect system we start by understanding what is wrong with your existing set-up. We will list the pains you are currently facing which are typically uneven room temperatures, noise, indoor air quality, and how you live in your home. The most common solutions for those problems lie not only in the new equipment itself, but also in the duct modifications and thermostat settings.

If part of the solution involved investing in staged equipment with variable speed motors the best bet is to set the thermostat with the fan in the “ON” position. What this will accomplish is allowing the variable speed fan motor to ramp up and down as it is needed. This is similar to using your accelerator in your car. As your furnace idles it will move the air at a slow and even speed continually circulating the air. And as it needs heating and cooling it will ramp up accordingly. This setting will also ensure that you are continually filtering the air 24/7. This is a great feature for my clients with allergies.

Now you must be aware that this will incur added electrical costs, however the newer motor is not going to need as much energy to run as the older system. This means at the end of the day you are still ahead of the electrical company.

For my clients who purchased furnaces that are not variable speed or staged I recommend that these clients keep their fan set in the “AUTO” position. This simply means that the fan will only run when there is a call for heating and cooling, and the fan will not operate during idle times. The disadvantages of setting this fan in the “ON’ position are the fan making a drafty feeling when operating between heating and cooling. You could, however, set the fan to “ON” during really warm days to keep the air circulating throughout the house.

“Ok Ok, what about the temperature?”

The easiest way to answer this question is by telling you what design temperatures we use to ensure your comfort. Based on what climate you are in and what temperature you would like to achieve inside are both crucial factors in the design process.

Add that to new technologies and design software and I can ensure your home gets to the exact temperature that you want. Now don’t fool yourself and think that everyone takes this crucial step to ensuring your satisfaction. The truth is that this step is skipped by 97% of contractors! Using these technologies allows me to ensure clients like you get the temperatures you want and deserve.

With that being said, the typical design for this area is between 73-75 degrees at your thermostat in the extreme highs and lows that we face in this region. We have even designed a system for a long time customer who wanted 65 degrees in his master suite.

So now that you know how they are designed the rest is personal preferences. For example in my home my cooling is typically set to 75 degrees during the day in air conditioning mode, set back to 70 for bedtime. Heating wise I typically set it to 73 during the day and between 68-70 at night. Some days I am just a little colder thanks to working outside. I also leave my system set with the fan in the “ON” position. This feature is being used to continually clean my air since I have two dogs, and my wife has allergies. Well again this is what I do and each instance is unique. I am happy to discuss your particular case if you have questions.

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